I’m late getting to it, but I felt like doing a Top Ten Tuesday list today!
I’ve never cared for Valentine’s Day, and I’m not that into romance in books, either. Two things I’m a huge fan of, though, are female friendships and Leslie Knope! So here are my recommendations based on Galentine’s Day, if you’d like something to read this month that isn’t heart-shaped or pink. These books feature meaningful relationships between women, in most cases central to the plot—in all cases, awesome.
Lumberjanes, by Noelle Stevenson
The Lumberjanes (two of whom are named Jo and Ripley, in what I sincerely hope are allusions to Little Women and Alien) are smart, strong, capable, and brave. They kick ass, always look out for each other, and recognize each other’s strengths. The Millennial humor was a little much for me, but I loved all the exclamations referencing women from history—”what the Joan Jett,” “oh my Bessie Coleman,” “holy Mae Jemison!”
Note: This is the first of a couple graphic novels on this list, and I promise that even if you don’t like graphic novels, there’s a good chance these will be worth it for you.
The House at the End of Hope Street, by Menna van Praag
To be honest, I was slightly disappointed when I read this, because it has such a fantastic premise that my hopes were high. Grammatical errors were one thing, and the book definitely needed a vigilant editor; the dialogue was another, unnatural and awkward. But it was a fun, quick read, and the premise is so great—a house that helps women get their lives together, with past residents like George Eliot and Beatrix Potter—that I still totally recommend it.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See
If you happen to also like historical fiction, Lisa See’s books might be your new favorites. This is the first of her books that I read, and I went on to love several more. From the Goodreads summary:
In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.
Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale
Many of you have probably read or heard of Austenland, but I think Shannon Hale’s YA novels are much, much better. This is maybe because I’m just not into Austen fanfic, but I really think they’re better written, with much more compelling stories.
Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king’s priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year’s time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king’s ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.
Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates.
Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
I first read this book in college, where I learned quickly that it was not a book to be read on campus—a place where people are trying to study without being disturbed by the snorting laughter of the girl in the corner who’s trying so hard to be quiet that she’s choking herself. Georgia and the Ace Gang are British teenagers just trying to figure out school, parents, boys, and little sisters who may have peed somewhere in their room. The books go so quickly that you’ll be glad there are ten of them in the series.
Princeless, by Jeremy Whitley
Princess Adrienne, tired of waiting to be “rescued” from the tower her parents put her in, rescues herself and flies off on the dragon to save other princesses. That’s really all you need to know.
How to Be Bad, by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle
A classic road trip coming-of-age story, set in swampy Florida with three teenage girls who are very, very different from each other.
A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray
Despite the covers that made me embarrassed to read them in public, this trilogy—a dark and surprising mix of fantasy, boarding school, and Victorian England—was so engaging that on the day the last book came out, I skipped all my classes to read 819 pages, start to finish.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre, by Gail Carson Levine
The only book on this list to feature sisters, The Two Princesses of Bamarre is one of my favorite “mighty girl” books. Meryl is the older sister, brave and adventurous and ready to rid the kingdom of the monsters that plague it. Addie is the younger sister, not brave and not adventurous, who looks up to Meryl and depends on her. But Meryl is the one who gets sick, and Addie is the one who must undertake the quest to save her life.
Rat Queens, by Kurtis J. Wiebe
“Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit.”
The rest of this list is in no particular order, but this is the best I saved for last. This is possibly the comic that made me fall in love with comics, and definitely the one after which my wi-fi network is named. Like Lumberjanes, in the fact that they’re an all-woman team of fighters, but the R-rated (and proportionately more awesome) version: grownup, hardcore, sex-positive. Very violent, which isn’t usually my thing. But everything to do with Rat Queens is now my thing.